“Where You Are: Migration, Narration, and the Shape of Apocalypse”
Matthew Hart, Columbia University
“Where You Are” asks and answers a literary-historical question: Why are so many recent post-apocalyptic novels set in archipelagic landscapes? The long version of this argument, which forms a chapter of my forthcoming book, Extraterritorial: A Political Geography of Contemporary Fiction, considers more than ten examples. This paper relies instead on a single case-study: an analysis of setting, narrative voice, and point-of-view in Asian American author Chang-rae Lee’s novel, On Such a Full Sea (2014). Contemporary novelists such as Lee have responded to the increasingly extraterritorial nature of twenty-first-century political geography by accenting and magnifying a quality inherent in many forms of romance narrative: a tendency to divide the story-world into the city and the wilderness, with characters journeying between one kind of redoubt and another. In Lee’s hands, this basic narrative geography shapes a collective narrative voice that’s at once diffuse and certain, comprehensive and unsystematic. Lee’s unusual post-apocalyptic style shows how the extraterritorial spatial logic of the outside within functions as a terrific engine for mediating speculative fiction’s basic oscillation between fantastic and everyday events.
“Queer Homecoming as Tactics of Interventions”
E.K. Tan, Stony Brook University
In this presentation, I discuss the concept of “queer homecoming” as tactics of interventions that enables the articulation of alternative kinship structures in mainstream cultural expressions such as literature and new media to destabilize the myth of consanguinity among communities in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. By rethinking the implications of concepts such as the familiar and the familial, I examine how queer identities and queerness can unsettle the dominant discourse of heternormative kinship and its marginalization of minority groups such as the LGBTQ communities in non-right-based societies. I will focus on two examples, a campaign video for an LGBTQ rally in Singapore and the diary novel, A Wife’s Diary by Taiwanese lesbian writer Chen Xue, to exemplify how queer subjects navigate and negotiate a liveable space within the institution of family and the nation state. My attempt is to map out a regional topography of inter-Asian queer relationalities that reflect a set of spatial politics which seeks to reconfigure the heteronormative home and national space.